The importance of great customer service is something that matters more than ever now in a post-Covid world. Firms that were renowned for poor customer service before Covid are now using Covid as an excuse for the same dismal customer service and experience. Bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences. Ryanair is often cited as being the worst of all firms to deal with, which is illustrated in this example.

BACKGROUND

A story about a Mother and autistic child that were refused a flight with Ryanair at Alicante airport flagged the importance of great customer service for all the wrong reasons. Ryanair tried to charge a £25 carry-on fee for the child’s comfort doll and all hell broke loose.

Jet2 came to the rescue and couldn’t do enough to help the family get home with the minimum of fuss, with a flight attendant being singled out in particular for praise in how she handled the situation.

This story went viral and global and is priceless free advertising and publicity for Jet2, whereas Ryanair were slated for how they handled it.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

We only have to look at Thomas Cook and Jet2 to see how firms fail or thrive based on the promise of going the extra mile and being customer-centric (or not). Both firms are in the same industry yet are poles apart on reputation, awards, profits and a loyal customer following.

I spoke about this with Lady Janey after we were both featured in the Daily Mail for our work as consumer champions.

Thomas Cook sadly no longer exists. I can understand why when a family on a boat and sightseeing trip shared their story about their child being electrocuted on holiday in Greece with me.

Jamie Oliver thought he could put his name to a brand to succeed, yet his chain of restaurants failed on mediocre quality of overpriced food and poor customer service.

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COVID AND BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

Covid has emerged as the new catch-all excuse for poor customer service. Customer service was hit by Covid and customers can accept that, but most businesses badly handled this crisis. Currys PC World actually removed their contact details from their website, shut email addresses down and deployed chatbots to manage customer complaints. They created at least 30 different fob offs and are still blaming Covid for everything.

The Institute of Customer Service says that firms are using Covid as an excuse for poor customer service including delays and late deliveries. Customer satisfaction is at an all time low. Hiding behind the phrase “Because of Covid” is going to rattle customers straightaway. It’s a worn out excuse that is simply unacceptable now.

GP surgeries have used Covid as a once in a lifetime opportunity to sneak ‘telephone triage’ through the back door. Patients accepted that Covid meant face-to-face appointments had to be temporarily suspended, although this has proved to be misleading. This will ultimately lead to many life-threatening illnesses going undetected and result in needless deaths.

Public sector organisations and utility companies faired worst. They always have and always will. Complacency, bad management and cost cutting is to blame – not Covid.

This is nothing new. I spoke about poor customer service, delays and fob offs 6 months into the pandemic with Lady Janey where Covid was being blamed for poor customer service. Firms that hide behind the Covid excuse simply do not take their customer service seriously. This is proven.

The same firms that performed well before Covid still scored well afterwards. No surprises there. These firms don’t settle for excuses. They know that improving speed of service goes beyond paying for extra resources. Customers simply want a frictionless experience.

GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE

In an era where everything is pretty much the same, the one thing that sets a firm apart is great customer service. I would never fly with Ryanair as I have heard too many bad experiences from friends and in the press. I always try and fly with Jet2 because they always go the extra mile in trying to remedy any issues with no hassle and have won awards for their customer service.

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Another great example is a small chippy I found one Christmas in Benidorm called Northern Sole in the Old Town. Cazzie and Graeme opened it in July 2018 and quickly built up a loyal customer base and following based on 3 cornerstones;

  • Treating their staff well
  • Delivering what the customers want
  • Providing exceptional customer service

I knew I had found something unique there. They are now rated in the top 1% of all food outlets on TripAdvisor in Benidorm, which is quite an achievement.

CUSTOMER LOYALTY

Their menu is continually changing to adapt to what their customers want. They also formed a collaboration with a bar next door as it’s a small venue with limited seating space. This was a shrewd move that benefits both establishments. By doing so, they know how to encourage customer loyalty.

Every business has to be customer-centric to succeed and mine as a writer and author is no different. I try and contact everyone that I know who has bought my consumer book to ask if they were able to resolve their dispute and for feedback. By doing this I am able to establish a relationship with my customers and assist them further if necessary.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE

One friend bought my book and whilst she couldn’t quite find what she was looking for in trying to contest a parking ticket, I was able to resolve it anyway by personally intervening and contacting the local Councillor with various legitimate points. She didn’t think she had a leg to stand on, yet I saved her £60 and she will remember me for doing that. I went the extra mile and I would have done that for anyone.

I have also helped others who have bought my book to unlock disputes just by following up on their purchase. Whilst I don’t have to, I see it as part and parcel of my work in engaging with my customers, helping them and doing the right thing. It’s called integrity and that is something that is sorely lacking nowadays. Furthermore, my motto is to educate, inspire and inform and actions speak louder than words.

Customers will remember firms who have behaved badly and reward those who have performed well with their loyalty. Which firms would you recommend for great customer service? Which firms would you avoid given how badly they treat their customers?

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